One of my favorite nativity scenes of all times involves a Delorean and Yoda. I’m not saying it’s accurate. I’m saying I like it. Actually, I love the idea behind it better. Looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of people who we typically don’t think of being a part of the Christmas story. And if that happens to involve characters from movies of my childhood… all the better.
But today I want to think about it from the perspective of Zechariah.
Not sure who that is? It’s John the Baptist’s father. His story is found in Luke 1:5-25 and 1:67-80. Zechariah was a Jewish priest and highly respected. He was considered a righteous and honorable man by his peers, even though he and his wife were unable to have children.
He was nearing the end of his career. They were getting up there in age, and he was selected to serve in the Temple to burn incense before the Lord. While he was in the Holy Place performing this ritual, the angel Gabriel appeared to him.
Gabriel told him that not only would he and Elizabeth have a child, but the child would become a great man. He would turn many back to God. He would be like Elijah and make ready the people for the Lord. It’s understandable that all of this was a bit overwhelming for Zechariah. He interrupted Gabriel’s announcement to remind him that a) he and Elizabeth were really old, and b) they weren’t able to have a child.
Gabriel in return told Zechariah he would be unable to speak until the child was born.
Merry Christmas, brother.
You might be thinking that this is an introvert’s dream. You mean I can be absolutely silent for the next 9 months? YES! But I’m confident it got old quickly. Zechariah and Elizabeth had dreamed of having a child. As the years turned to decades, that dream had died.
Then everything changed. Everything. Where there was hurt, there is now hope. Where there was regret, there is now purpose. There is a life! There is the coming Messiah. This child will be a part of that.
And Zechariah couldn’t speak a word of it.
For nine months.
He couldn’t encourage Elizabeth. He couldn’t prep her for what this child was going to mean for the nation of Israel. He couldn’t laugh with her at the audacity of what God was doing.
All he could do was think. And pray. Be still.
Then again, maybe that’s exactly what God wanted from Zechariah. He’d spent years serving and doing things for God. Now it was his turn to receive from God. To be still and know. To enjoy the journey.
Once John the Baptist was born, Zechariah was able to speak again. His first words were to name his son John. He was able to tell the whole story then. When Mary came to visit and they heard of her pregnancy… what a time to be alive.
I think that we’d do well to take a page out of Zechariah’s book. To find times to be silent and just watch. Be still. Allow Christmas to just happen in front of us, around us. To watch the joy of others. To just be in that moment God has us in and be silent enough to look at how He is moving all around us.
Not a bad way to see Christmas, is it?